Saturday, 29 November 2008

Influence - Ashley Olsen & Mary-Kate Olsen

Mary-Kate Olsen describes her twin sister Ashley Olsen as someone who is passionate, driven and with great integrity while she is feisty with a maverick demeanor. This is highlighted immensely in their new book in which they share their historic influences. The mammoth coffee table book is aptly titled, Influence and shows these two ladies of style celebrating their icons. We all know the story of the Olsen twins; famous before they could even breathe they landed a slot on the TV show, Full House before they were even a year old. Before the show ended in 1993 they began to build their brand and lent their name to clothes, perfumes, books and magazines - you name it and chances are Mary-Kate and Ashley were on the cover of it. Over the last few years as they have become young women, The Olsens have become style icons with Mary-Kate leading the way with her waify boho-chic look which some people refer to as ashcan. Last year the twins launched a hip and contemporary clothing line called Elizabeth and James, so I suppose the release of this book was inevitable. 

The Olsens undertook all the interviews themselves in cities such as New York, Paris and LA and spoke to fashion's finest such as Karl Lagerfeld, Diane Von Furstenburg, Lauren Hutton, John Galliano, Margherita Missoni, Christian Laboutin and many many more. Each interview is accompanied by wonderful and vivid images taken by uber photographer, Rankin.  However, it is not just the images that make this book tick; the typography which is used abundantly is just beautiful to look at. 

While Mary-Kate plays her part this is very much Ashley's book in the fact that she has done most of the interviews and has written the introduction although Mary-Kate gets the last word with the conclusion. The scrap book like pages of the twins when they were younger and more recently in various on trend poses are very cute. I also really dig the the fact that they have used different textures for their pages; Mary-Kate's is a glossy matte while Ashley's has a much rougher texture. Even the images are a world apart - the ones on Ashley's pages are slightly off beat and quite grungy while Mary-Kate's reek of pure high end glamour. I just adore the Polaroid images in the book particularly the ones on the inside front and back. Gorgeous, gorgeous book that any fashion or photography lover would be proud to have in their collection. I am not an Olsen fan but this book might just convert me. 

NB: It has just come to light that Influence has two version, one for Ashley and the other for Mary-Kate hence the different covers and slants. 

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Grazia LIVE

Those ingenious lot at Grazia have taken magazine journalism one step further by producing a special Grazia Live issue. In celebration of Westfield, the whole team - 46 of them - packed up everything lock stock and barrel and headed down to the country's brand new spanking shopping centre to set up up office. Courtesy of Habitat, the Grazia team took up residence in a cool perspex pod which is literally a fishbowl and set about producing the magazine. Westfield, in case you have been in a deep coma is Europe's newest and largest urban shopping centre and as it holds a whooping 271 high street and designer stores, is a perfect venue for the shopping obsessed Grazia.

You can imagine that producing a weekly magazine must be pretty fast paced at the best of times but doing it in a bustling shopping centre where you are totally exposed to the public must be totally frantic. However, the nation's top magazine of the year did not stop there and also found time to do a live model casting, run a competition to find Grazia's Next Top Intern as well as hosting five daily fashion seminars. Phew all that makes me feel dizzy but all the crazy hard work paid off and we have a cracking issue - all 148 pages.

You can watch the rest of the Grazia in Westfield's episodes here.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Surviving the Property Credit Crunch

You will have to be living under a rock not to notice that the recession is upon us and that the credit crunch has taken the wheels off the economy. Cutbacks are being made left, right and centre in the job market and consumer spending has taken a downturn. This has affected the property market immensely because it means that what was once a buoyant market full of sales and viewings has now turned into one of huge decline. People are no longer snapping up properties like they did a few years back but instead are choosing to rent. More crucially those who are already on the property ladder and would have been looking to trade up are staying put. Enter The Home Show from the fold of Channel 4, pioneers of property shows such as Location, Location, Location, Selling Homes and Property Ladder. All these shows tapped into the property boom of the 90s and showed the viewers how they could make zillions from their home. Sadly those days are over but The Home Show is here to the rescue to show us how we can stay put but still have the home of our dreams.

Trendy architect, George Clarke focuses on a different family home each week, reworking its layout to optimise its space, natural assets, comfort and style. Similar to Selling Homes, the homeowners clear out of their pad while George transforms the place. The magazine like show also features architect, Angela Brady who takes us through the stunning style of European homes and gives viewers tips on how they can replicate the look. Also Builders Confidential looks at the things that drive us crazy about builders and throw us some inside tips on how to get the best service.

You can catch The Home Show on Wednesdays at 8.00pm on Channel 4.

For those who are hell bent on buying Channel 4 have created a spin off edition of Location, Location, Location which sees presenters, Kirstie Allsop and Phil Spencer seeking bargains for homebuyers and offering tips on how to stay afloat in the current climate.

Location, Location, Location: A Survival Guide is on Monday at 9.00pm on Channel 4.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Pat McGrath

We all need to put a bit of slap on now and again; whether to hide blemishes or to achieve a glam look for a night out. Wearing make up can go from accentuating your best features to utterly transforming you completely. Applying lipstick, powder and paint is a work of art and a profession that make up artists are highly revered for. I remember seeing a book by the iconic Kevyn Aucoin in the early 1990s and being totally floored by his work. The Art of Make Up, featured top notch celebrities in make up and costumes that made them look like other famous bods. You might remember Kevyn from an episode in Sex and the City where he did Carrie's make up for the fashion show that she was in. While Cindy Crawford was the first supermodel and I think it is safe to say that Kevyn was the first super make up artist. Nowadays we have big guns such as Bobbi Brown, Francois Nars, Laura Mercier, Jemima Kidd, Charlotte Tilbury, Ruby Hammer and Charlie Green who dominate the international cosmetics scene but none of them have made as much of a mark as Pat McGrath.

Ms McGrath has been wielding her mascara wand since the mid 1990s and is simply the best in the business. A feature in the Observer Woman dubbed her the world's most-wanted make up artist and others tout her as the most influential beauty artist in the world. A firm presence backstage at all the premier fashion weeks, the Northampton born McGrath is not afraid to experiment with colours and textures. So do not be surprised when you see her using lipstick on the eyes and cheeks and mixing face creams. She got her break after a stint with i-D magazine by over turning the nation's obsession with grunge and going for full on glam with lots of colour thrown in. A tour with the hotter than hot Soul II Soul soon hailed and after that virtually every other music job going. She eventually moved back into fashion and picked up clients such as Jill Sanders, Hussein Chalayan, John Galliano and became renowned for "latex petals stuck to faces, vinyl lips, bodies drenched in powder paint, and stylized Kabuki physiognomies." Pat divides her time between London and New York (where else?) and like other celeb make-up artists, she plans to launch her own cosmetics brand (what else?) which should hit the high street in 18 months time.  Check out the video above and see how great she is.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Black Love

Images of Black couples in the media has always been a turbulent one and more often than not it has often been negative. The relationship between Black men and women have historically been depicted as dysfunctional, unhealthy and sometime violent. When I was younger I used to wince when a Black couple came onto the big or small screen as I could tell that something horrible was going to happen. A lot of the depiction was down to racism and deep ignorance as well as an imbalance in the number of people of colour who are in production positions in film and TV. The 70s had a few gems in the shape of Lady Sings the Blues in which Diana Ross played jazz singer, Billie Holiday. The story demonstrated how Billie's life was marred by her drug addiction but what was poignant about the film were the loving scenes between Billie and her husband, Louis who was played by Billy Dee Williams. The Cosby Show carried the baton next with the tales of Cliff and Clair Huxtable and their five lively children. Cliff played by the legendary, Bill Cosby absolutely doted on Clair and was not ashamed to show it. Where The Cosby Show left off the films in the 90s and naughties took up and we saw films like Love Jones, Brown Sugar, Love and Basketball representing Black love in a realistic way. Just like any other the couples in these films had their ups and downs but they were treated in a respectful and positive way. Now we see Black love represented in the tallest order. The new President of the United States and his First Lady are a loving couple who have caught the imagination of the world. He the powerful orator who instill passion and pride in his countryman and she the tall elegant figure who is the backbone in the partnership. Together with their two daughters they will be the most glamorous family to enter the White House since JFK and his family swept everyone off their feet in 1960. So it was of great pleasure to me to see the image of Barack kissing his wife tenderly after he had won the presidential campaign plastered all over the media. Talk about full circle. Here's to you Barack and Michelle. Yes We Can!!!